Main cast: Ben Stiller (Derek Zoolander), Owen Wilson (Hansel McDonald), Will Ferrell (Jacobim Mugatu), Penélope Cruz (Valentina Valencia), Kristen Wiig (Alexanya Atoz), Christine Taylor (Matilda Jeffries), Cyrus Arnold (Derek Zoolander Jr), and Milla Jovovich (Katinka Ingabogovinanana)
Director: Ben Stiller
The first Zoolander movie worked pretty well due to it being both a novelty and a funny movie. That was fifteen years ago, however, and when Zoolander 2 finally rolls out in 2016, it is pretty much the same thing, with the whole action-spy-fantasy angle ramped up, and the whole movie feels really dated as a result. On the bright side, it is nowhere as terrible as one may expect.
Since the last movie, years have passed, and Derek has lost Matilda Jeffries and his Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good when the latter collapsed, killing the former. He subsequently lost custody of his kid Derek Jr as well, and spent the rest of his days in pouting seclusion. Well, until Billy Zane shows up to pass him an invitation to the Alexanya Atoz’s House of Atoz fashion show. Billy also asks Derek to get back his son, who is now in an orphanage. Meanwhile, Billy also hands Hansel McDonald, Derek’s former rival, the same invitation, and Hansel learns that he has knocked up every member of his harem. I hope he has saved enough money, because raising ten kids at the same time won’t come cheap.
Learning that his son is fat and that he and Hansel are considered has-beens are the least of Derek’s worries, however. Valentina Valencia, Fashion Interpol agent, approaches him and Hansel to get their help in tracking down someone who is killing pop stars like Justin Bieber, who have been emulating Derek’s “Blue Steel” look. Villain Jacobim Mugatu joins the fun, Matilda Jeffries’s ghost shows up, and there is some nonsense about the fountain of youth that can grant fashion people immortality. Really, this is one of those movies that one has just watch and hope that the laughs will distract the brain from thinking too hard.
In many ways, the movie parallels the protagonist’s initial slip into irrelevance, only, alas, unlike Derek Zoolander, this movie may not find a happy ending. In the years since the first movie, parodies on YouTube have already done all the gags here first, and killing Justin Bieber, especially is such a tired meme at this point that I actually groan when this movie thinks that it would be funny to incorporate this overused gag. The narcissism of the fashion world isn’t so gimmicky and funny anymore now that we have seen many people on Instagram who embody such narcissism without any hint of self awareness. The whole premise and the gags here don’t feel fresh or new anymore, they feel like yet another rehash of the same punchlines and memes that have been flying around these last ten years or so. Zoolander 2 is basically playing catch up in 2016.
Still, as I’ve said, the movie still manages to deliver some weak chuckles here and there, although, like its tired repertoire of jokes, the main characters are just rehashing the same old stuff, only with a little bit more character growth thrown in this time. Still, the idea that fatherhood can somehow transform a man from loser to noble hero is not exactly new, and its treatment here isn’t exactly inspired either.
Zoolander 2 boasts an even larger parade of cameo appearances from famous to semi-famous people, from Ariana Grande to Naomi Campbell to Benedict Cumberbatch, often to the point that the script is just an excuse to trot out these people. Even Susan Boyle is here somewhere. Even then, the guest appearances feel predictable by this point. Is anyone surprised that Tommy Hilfiger and Naomi Campbell would show up?
Everything about this movie feels like it’s been done before, often better too, in a “I’ve seen this before… somewhere!” manner. It won’t break the heart of anyone who sees it, but I’d recommend waiting until it’s available for rental. Nothing about it is worth braving the queue at the concession stand and having to bear with the annoying couple making out noisily next to you in the theater.